Letter from the Interim Pastor
The question most asked of people in interim ministry is, “What is an interim pastorate?” The short answer is: It is the ministry that comes between called pastors. It is how a church gets from what came before to what comes next.
The longer answer is that an interim pastorate helps a congregation in its ongoing life. On the most basic level, this means making sure the day-to-day life of the church goes on: worship services are prepared, pastoral calls are made, and so on.
On a deeper level, this can be a time of looking at our life together and seeing its strengths and weaknesses—building on the strengths, working to overcome the weaknesses. It can be a time for trying things in new ways. (Even if I changed nothing about the order of worship, my style will still be different from Pastor Phil’s.) It may mean looking at the church’s history and seeing where we are in line or have strayed from the congregation’s purposes.
That doesn’t mean I plan to rush in and change everything. I take seriously the idea that we are a congregational church, meaning that the congregation is the ruling body, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But is also means that I am not afraid to push the congregation to look at things differently.
Another aspect of interim ministry is helping the Search Committee when it is formed. I have experience in writing church profiles (The guide to how the congregation presents itself to potential candidates for called pastor). I can answer general questions about what to look for in a candidate’s professional profile (The résumé the UCC uses). I can help the Search Committee form questions for interviews and conduct a mock interview if that seems appropriate. But I have no say in the vetting or choosing of candidates. I only attend Search Committee meetings at the invitation of the committee.
I am often asked, “How long will the interim last?” There is no definite answer to that. Generally, most interim periods are one to two years. Occasionally they can be shorter; sometimes they are longer. Some of this depends on how long it takes to form a Search Committee. If specific issues come up that we need to address before looking for a pastor, this may require some additional time.
I am looking forward to working with Pioneer in this interim period. I need each of you to help me as we get going. If there is anything you want to discuss with me, either about the church or personal matters, please contact me directly. My phone is (484) 818-1722; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Communication always works best when it is person to person, not through a third party! (You don’t need a pressing issue to contact me. I love to talk! Also, if there is a topic you’d like to hear a sermon about, I’d like to hear your ideas!)
We begin this journey together. May God bless each of you and all of us as we seek the way God is leading.
The Rev. William Pifer-Foote